What is paper, rectangular and gives us more power in 20 minutes than we might wield in a year? That’s right, ladies, gentlemen and everyone else, it is the Ballot. You all should have received yours within the past week or so, assuming you took advantage of the many places on campus where voter registration was available, or if it was shoved in your face by one of those signature-gatherers. Gotta love ’em, right? Maybe not. Either way, unless you were stuck in the Smith basement, hands glued to game controllers and eyes blinking only occasionally, I’m hoping you were able to register before the Oct. 17 deadline. If not, have fun on the sidelines because things are about to get really interesting for all of us civic engagement junkies.
I’m going to do you all a favor. Before you begin the agonizing deliberation over different measures and candidates, I’m going to have the gall to assume you may be interested in my own process and how I might come to my own voting conclusions. I’ve got my ballot in front of me as well as a very sharp No. 2 pencil. Let’s look at some of the big-ticket items.
The governor’s race is supposed to be very close, which will result in a thin margin of victory for either Governor Ted Kulongoski or the flannel-clad Ron Saxton. Who deserves to win? A visit to the campaign websites and a quick glance at the endorsements list for each candidate might be one way to decide. Saxton has a lot of different logging industry groups, not to mention Oregon publications on his side. Very peculiar: Loggers cut down trees, publications are printed on paper, and paper comes from – trees! Wow, that was easy. Now let’s give old Teddy K. the quick run through. He’s supported by a number of different women’s rights advocacy groups and education associations. Now this sounds more like it.
Of course, these politicized lists aren’t the only points to consider. Character is important for sure and perhaps you might care about their stances on issues like the environment, health care and education. Or, like many voters, you may have given up noticing any substantial differences between these two powerhouses and just vote along party lines. I think it is most important, however, to decide what either of these privileged, Caucasian men have done for you lately.
Governor Kulongski was on campus last week, still basking in the glow left behind by everyone’s favorite vice president and global warming spokesman, Al Gore. He stood in the browsing lounge of Smith Memorial Student Union, something we students pay for, and spoke for a short time about Oregon and his environmental accomplishments. I’m slightly miffed about the precious little he had to say about PSU or the students who go here, but at least he followed through on his promise to visit. Mr. Saxton made no such offer and really paid no attention to students in his campaign. Of course, no politician ever panders to students, but a few really do give us the occasional nod. Governor T. K., I’m willing to give you another chance; don’t let me down!
There are a whole slew of different state representatives, judges, and other seats requiring our judgment before they can be filled. I don’t know too much about each candidate, but I do know how to use the deductive reasoning skills that most of us were born with and will mark my ballot with zeal. Without naming all the names most of us have never heard of, I’ll simply relay my process and you can guess from there who my picks are, if you really want to. First, I look for the Democrats. If this is not applicable, I look for a woman’s name. If neither of these variables exist, I must be honest, I’m going to eeny-meeny-miny-mo it. Don’t tell anyone, okay?
Ballot measures 41 and 48 will drastically reduce funding for all education systems in Oregon and set us so far behind that Moldova, eastern Europe’s poorest country, will have better funded universities. Enough said. I am voting NO, quite emphatically you might say, if you could see me right now.
Ballot measure 43 is one of the worst proposals ever written. That some people think that the government can legally enforce healthy, open communication between a pregnant teen and her parents where there was none before, is truly disconcerting. Mandated parental notification before an abortion places thousands of Oregonian teens in unsafe situations. It is truly amazing just how many laws are written and enforced by people who will never be subject to them. If nothing else on this ballot inspires you to fill it out, please, vote your heart on this issue.
It is imperative that we all do vote and take part in this most crucial of democratic functions. The student’s status in politics is in limbo, and it is up to the entire university body to show that we need not take another back seat during this legislative sessions. Pick up that pencil and get the lead/vote out.